Let me just nerd out real quick. I will talk about this genre more than once so I might as well come clean now. I am obsessed with Fantasy/Sci-Fi in every form it comes in. Being a graduate student, I should read more books in my free time. Somehow, when I am done with class where I read 5 articles on the future of archival research (although stimulating when I have my thinking cap on), reading is the last thing I want to do. There is something so terrible and yet so refreshing about saying that. Kindly get that book away from me, I have every intention of melting into the couch. Please silence all cell phones. And then I turn on the television.
Any roommate I’ve had will tell you that I appreciate my couch time. I guiltily look up at them and say, “This is me…winding down.” Winding down typically takes a good couple hours as I prefer long TV shows—the longer the better really. It means that I am out of commission for at least 53 minutes (Thank you HBO).
HBO is probably my favorite network, but my favorite shows stem from all over (Not all are Fantasy/Sci-Fi). Here is my list:
Dexter (I HATED the series finale, almost enough to make me remove it from this list altogether, but my psych background still keeps it in my top 10)
Orphan Black (just started it and I am obsessed.)
Orange Is The New Black
Mad Men (Hello, Don Draper.)
And 10.) Game of Thrones! These are not in order by any means; I’m not even sure that I could—they are all so different, and as such, I’m in love with them all in different ways. Some of these shows were inspired by series of shorter books, like Dexter and True Blood. Game of Thrones, however, is a very interesting case. The show is also based on a series of books, but the book series is unfinished, leaving both the readers and the viewers hungry for more. While George R. R. Martin had a head start with the books, the show seems to be catching up in some of the story lines (and there are many). Creative direction allows the show to veer from the books somewhat, giving the loyal readers an element of surprise. For those of us who have not read the books, the show is completely new and addicting.
Although I am notorious for pumping readers for all their knowledge (patience isn’t one of my virtues), I strongly advise you to just watch the show. It’s seriously amazing. If you haven’t made it to Season 4, stop reading this blog post now. I am not revealing anything crazy, but I feel it’s my duty to say, “Spoiler Alert!” Just in case!
I am exploring a theory about the role of women in Game of Thrones. I was initially thinking about it for my Master’s thesis, but instead decided to release rhetorical thoughts about each female character on Pinks+Femme. You’re welcome. I found that I was brainstorming thesis titles as opposed to actually writing it—typical. Think of it like scholarly Game of Thrones:
“Rhetoric of the Female Voice: An Analysis of Game of Thrones—Interchangeability and Expansion of Gender Roles”
“Game of Thrones: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Female Voice, Interchangeability, and Expansion of Gender Roles”
Essentially, they say the same thing—the difference is purely stylistic, a rhetorician’s dilemma. Thematically, the root of this investigation is not too far off from my actual thesis direction, which discusses the progress of gender roles in the contemporary realm. Specifically, I’m looking at the verbiage we use to either neutralize gender roles or push them further apart. Social media and online forums are my specialty, but that spills into pop culture as well, as it is a crucial part of current happenings.
Take Game of Thrones for example. If we look at the women, their characters reflect our contemporary perceptions of women in some ways. For those of you who don’t watch, Game of Thrones takes place mainly in Westeros; there are seven kingdoms, and everyone wants the throne. Hence, Game of Thrones. Get it? Westeros is not a real place, although some speculate that it represents Europe (strictly geographically speaking) in an imaginary time period. Based on the weaponry and costume design, it is set back in what I would call medieval times (I’m ball parking it), presenting us with a variety of lenses to view the characters With this mindset, these female characters, Sansa, Arya, Marjorie, Queen of Thorns, Daenerys Stormborn, Red Woman, Brienne, and Cersei, stand out as they play with these boundaries, within them or outside of them.
Lens #1: The implied time and setting allows for a certain, gendered expectations of women and a very strict idea of how a woman should be. The rights of women were vastly different than they are in today’s society. For instance, as seen in the show, daughters are almost treated as bargaining chips, married off to other kingdoms in order to establish alliances. The characters reflect this notion—Sansa in particular is engaged to Prince Geoffrey, whom she despises along with the rest of us. So we watch with these limited rights in mind, not accepting them by any means, but understanding the social norms of the implied time period.
Lens #2: We do not live in medieval times; we are not accustomed to this strict role of the woman. We live of a contemporary society where feminism and the women’s rights movement are in full force, and yet we still deal with conventional gender roles, moving away from them as quickly as we can. As viewers, we respond to these onscreen interactions with a fresh perspective. We are a 21st century audience that is pro-women, rooting for each character to survive and persevere in this fantastic storyline (maybe not all of the characters, but I at least need to know what happens to them.) When I see Cersei taking verbal abuse from King Robert, or “putting a woman in her place,” I cringe inside. And Cersei is not a nice person; she may actually be the WORST, and yet my inner feminist has a hard time with these interactions.
Lens #3: As I mentioned before, while it may mimic a time period and a place, Westeros does not exist. The hints of magic, dragons, White Walkers (don’t ask, just watch it and/or read it!) categorize this as fantasy. The impossible is possible. Some characters, like Lady Marjorie, utilize the power of their sexuality, while others, like the Red Woman, use their sexuality and actual magical powers. In this fantastical realm, these women bend the rules, use them, and break them. All bets are off; let’s see what they can do.
The combination of these lenses creates a very unique experience when we read the books or watch the show. This was merely an introduction. This Game of Thrones blog series will analyze their brilliant tactics through all four seasons; we’re waiting on Season 5. As Cersei so infamously states, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
We want them to win, obviously, and I want to know how they do it. Stay tuned, friends, “winter is coming.” #GIRLBOSSES
Text © 2015 Jamie McDowell
Re-print © 2015 The Black Lion Journal
Re-printed with permission.
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